For the background I've just done a post in the 'Introduce Yourself' forum and hopefully this will provide a link http://forums.phoenixrising.me/index.php?threads/hello-from-scotland.49809/ Apologies for repeating some things here. Basically I became ill 2 years ago (although there were signs something was badly wrong long before that) and had to leave a job I'd just started a month before. I realised it was unlikely that I'd ever sustain a job - even part-time - again but because I live on my own, have a mortgage and can't get a government pension until I'm 66, I have to find some sort of income from somewhere for 8 years. I have some savings and about £5,000 in a work pension and I think there's another work pension available when I'm 60 which provides £3,000 a year (it seems to say that on paper but I can't get it confirmed with the pension company concerned) but obviously that's not enough. I'm in the UK and have been claiming ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) and JSA (Jobseekers Allowance) since I became ill but am now at a crossroads where I can't do what's expected to get JSA (apply for jobs, go to interviews etc.) but my claim for ESA has just been turned down because I 'still have fatigue' which I had the last time I claimed at the beginning of last year. This, despite spending 20 (long) minutes telling the guy at the end of the phone how things are much worse than the last claim and also having a new diagnosis (last year it was Anxiety and Depression because CFS wasn't diagnosed until October 2016). "But you still have fatigue - I don't see what's different." Shocked silence at my end. Anyway I intend to go to my local Citizens Advice Bureau and see if I can get help with appealing the decision but what I really want some input on is the following. I've recently done some training in person-centred counselling with a local agency. I trained years ago but left it to do adult literacy tutoring and never went back. I've always wanted to try and re-connect with it and have been careful to continue friendships in that world and go to various workshops/training/talks relating to it whenever I could. At the end of December 2015 I contacted an old colleague who was also the manager of a local counselling agency and she advised me to apply to undertake their training course which I did, was accepted and started it in January 2016. It was difficult but manageable and in June, I completed and passed it and in August, began counselling with clients. I'm contracted to undertake seeing a minimum of 2 clients for a minimum of 2 years with the Agency. When I was completing the Agency's training, 5 of the girls on the course were going on to do a 2-year postgraduate Diploma at a local University and I found myself really wishing I was doing it with them. I had heard the course was intensive but thought the fact I knew some people already would help a great deal. I discovered they were still accepting applications so I applied and was accepted. I promised myself I would just take it a step at a time and if there were any signs that it was too much I would stop. The reasons for doing it were: (1) partly because it felt right; (2) partly to keep having a focus on something I really enjoyed; (3) partly to further my knowledge and build on the initial training; (4) partly as a means to possibly providing some income because I could set up in private practice and pick my own hours. I started in September 2016 and was thoroughly enjoying it but finding it difficult to get enough reading/studying done. However I was managing but noticed I was beginning to pick up bugs a lot. I put this down to being around so many people and having 2 little grandchildren who only live 15 miles away (so I saw them fairly frequently). Just before Christmas I had to tackle my second course assignment and was again fighting another bug but managed to get it in. However I made some fairly 'rookie' mistakes in it and in January when we returned for our second module, I found I'd failed it by half a mark. So frustrating! I got some good one to one feedback and realised where I'd gone wrong (I've never done a degree before so was struggling with the academic side of things) and set about trying to resubmit it. This was really where it all started to unravel. I began to realise how much I was just 'scraping by' and also relying to an extent on the previous Agency training. Now we were learning about 'new stuff' I was having to do a lot more reading and that, coupled with having to resubmit the assignment plus working towards the third one due in in March, was making me struggle. At the end of January I picked up yet another bug - a corker this time - and whilst in bed with it, I realised one of my cats, Willow, was seriously ill. My brother happened to be over for a visit to his kids who live here so he very kindly made himself available all that day to ferry me back and fore to the vet. Willow was kept in that night and the whole of the next day by which time I was feeling a bit better and I was able to pick him up myself that evening. He was still very frail and weak and not eating but on the Thursday morning he had a little tuna and I knew he'd turned a corner. I could physically feel the stress leave my body. That day was my day for counselling and so, delighted to be out of those particular woods, I went into the Agency. I felt tired but honestly thought I'd be okay as long as I came straight home and went to bed afterwards. During the first client session I became very hot, panicky and breathless. I knew it had nothing to do with the counselling and jiggled around in my seat, shifting position, taking drinks of water etc. and it subsided thankfully. The client hadn't noticed. I thought I just needed food so took myself off to a cafe and had a sandwich and mug of sweet tea before my next client at 2.30. Instead of feeling better I felt worse and only just managed to get back to the Agency before I collapsed in their office. I remember praying please don't let this be a relapse as the old familiar horrible symptoms kicked in. But it was. And I've spent the time since recovering. I'm getting better as each week passes and I'm doing some deep thinking about my future but what I'm scared of is that if I start to feel really well or get back to where I was before the relapse there's a good chance I'll think about starting the course again in September. I have the option of deferring until then and repeating the first year. The advantage to that is: (1) I'll know what to expect; (2) I can get some of the tasks out of the way at the beginning; (3) I can start to prepare for the assignments between now and September; (4) I can catch up on reading/studying at a more leisurely pace between now and September; (5) I can tap into the University's Disability Service and find out what they can do to support me; (6) I can take advantage of the University's free counselling service; (7) I will already have some things in place; (8) I can be far better prepared overall. If I stay at the level of activity I'm at just now there's no way I'll be able to do this so the decision will be out of my hands. And that's okay. But what scares me is that I may feel well enough to have another bash at it all and have the same thing happen again. Clouding the issue is the fact that when the relapse happened I was getting over a horrible bug and had the added stress of Willow being so ill so maybe there was a cumulative effect going on - but then those same factors could very well happen next year as well. I know each of us is different and response to activity is very individual but I just wondered if anyone had been in a similar position and also if it's the case that each relapse generally puts you back further down the scale to where you were before or if there are cases where people have recovered fully and tackled something again but from a position of being better prepared and with better ammunition so to speak! I would welcome anyone's thoughts.